Allergies, known and unknown, pose a serious health risk to children and adults alike.
That’s why nurse practitioner Yvonne Bartlett is spearheading a campaign which she hopes will result in 16 epinephrine kits in schools and public facilities throughout Charlotte County in the next few weeks.
The first of such kits, equipped with an epinephrine auto injector or “EpiPen,” was installed at the Milltown Elementary School Monday.
Bartlett explained children with allergies can bring their own EpiPens to school where the medication can be administered should it be required.
“But what about people visiting the school who might have an anaphylactic episode?” asked Bartlett.
She came up with the idea after learning about a pilot project started by nurse practitioner Kelly Dunnfield in Sussex, who with her son, Robert, a second year medical student and support from allergist and immunologist Dr. Andrea Canty of Saint John, put kits in the Sussex area community.
Within a month, a kit had saved the life of a man who suffered an allergic reaction while out in the woods. His young daughter knew of the placement of the epinephrine kit, said Bartlett, and drove her father on a four wheeler to nearby lodge and restaurant where the life saving dosage was administered.
“He would have died but for her actions and that kit,” said Bartlett.
Bartlett said it’s her goal to have the epinephrine kits, containing an adult dose as well as dosage for a child, located beside existing defibrillators in public places.
“We need this. We are a rural area. Yes, we have paramedics and ambulances, but when you’re talking anaphylaxis, we’re talking seconds, not minutes, to save a life. And patients often need that second dose.
“This kind of needs to be done here. This is for people who don’t know they are allergic to something,” said Bartlett, saying she has a 55-year-old patient in her nursing practice who has eaten shrimp his entire life and suddenly started to have an allergic reaction to it.
Bartlett said the kits are important especially this time of year “when grandpa comes to school for a Christmas concert and maybe has an anaphylactic episode.”
Bartlett said St. Stephen Guardian Pharmacy is partnering with the project which has the approval of principals within the Anglophone South School District. The kits will be purchased from the nurse practitioner in Sussex who began a business selling the “Be Ready Health Care” epinephrine kits she and her son developed.
Bartlett said she’d like to see the kits placed in community arenas and facilities, like the Garcelon Civic Centre, and is meeting with a town representative later this month to present the idea.